Friday, May 25, 2018

Short Social Fiction: Adventures of Tupi 49

Tupi felt strange. He was looking at himself lying on the hospital bed -- alone. There were doctors, nurses checking on him from time to time, but no one came to visit. "I guess, in the end, my existence did not matter to anyone." Tupi said.

Tupi watch himself with tubes coming out of his nose and mouth and nurses coming to feed him from time to time using the tubes. Soon, it was morning again, and still no one visited. Tupi can feel himself drifting further away from his body. "I guess this is the end. Working hard my whole life for that HDB flat, and no one remembers me. I think my Eulogy would read - Loner to the end, failing to help, and helping to fail."

Tupi was about to turn and leave, but he saw Suzie coming into his room and sitting beside him. "Tupi, please wake up. I felt really lonely when you left the house to live on your own. I miss you and I did not have a chance to tell you as you were travelling and did not give me new your non-office phone number." She choked a little and cried clutching her Mickey Mouse necklace. "You were the best brother to me and... and you protected me and taught me many things when I was young."

"You bought me this necklace in Tokyo Disneyland when I was 14, and wear this everyday. When we had a fall on your motorcycle, which I got this scar, you never forgave yourself and sold the motorcycle and never rode again. But it was my fault for leaning the wrong way in a corner. The last time I saw you happy was with that bike." Suzie said holding Tupi's hand tight. "After that, you started working and even when we live in the same house, I don't really have a chance to meet you except during New Years and Christmas. You work late everyday and get home tired and sleep all weekend, then you moved out a few months ago. Mary was angry at first as she thought you would be still in the house taking care of me. I did not want you to move, but you seemed finally happy again with your own place. Please don't leave me...."

Tupi paused. He did not realize that his sister cared so much about him. He approached her and tried to touch her but his hands passed through her. "I'm a bad brother, I have never been there, not even for your graduation because I was in the army. Then I focused too much on work. I wanted to give you more space as we live in such a small HDB flat, so I was determined to move out to give you space." Tupi said. "I am too selfish. Even when I was jobless, I wanted to explore more and did not think about catching up with you and Mary. I just wanted to make an impact on someone... anyone, as my life has been insignificant and no one would remember me, but now I know that you cared... I need to find a 1-up or restore from a save point. Please let me try again. I will make it up to you."


Tupi woke up in a hospital bed. He opened his eyes slowly and his vision was still blurry with a bit of red. He was very uncomfortable with tubes in his nose and mouth. He can feel a throbbing pain on the side of his head and ringing in his ears. "My head hurts... so much." Tupi mumbled and as his vision slowly gets into focus, he realized that he was in an empty room.

Tupi felt slightly nauseous and really tired. tears rolled down his face as he had a sudden feeling of loneliness again. "I guess this is level 10." Tupi thought to himself and could not control the tears rolling down his cheeks. "Oh.. god, this hurts more..." Tupi muttered as his tears entered his bandages and went over some abrasions.

Tupi closed his eyes and waited for the pain to end.


Tupi heard more voices in his room. He slowly opened his eyes and saw Michael. "Hey! You are awake!" Michael shouted excitedly and ran out of the room. Minutes later, Tupi's sisters came in along with many of his other friends he met while he was volunteering.

"Tupi!" Suzie cried. "Don't leave me!" 

Tupi felt something warm inside. He felt loved and glad that he had many friends and family concerned about him. 

"Here are some information about you on the News." Michael said. "Singaporean survived hurricane in Florida only to hit by a car in Singapore... Seems like your friend Justin was interviewed and he had some photos of you, and local news was about to publish it and soon after, you were hit by that car mirror. It was a hit and run, some people posted the accident, it became viral, and when your story broke, suddenly there are a lot of well wishers. The whole room next door is filled with flowers from well wishers. They also caught the driver."

Tupi was happy, he wanted to respond but started choking from some liquid entering his throat getting into his airway.

"Doctor!" Suzie shouted and the nurses rushed in to check on Tupi. The nurse shined a flashlight into Tupi's eyes.

"He's ok." The nurse said. I will remove the tubes now, since he is awake. Can all of you please leave for a while, I need to work here."


Tupi made a full recovery. His skull was fractured by a car mirror and went into a coma for 3 days from the impact, but nothing was seriously damaged inside. Tupi was observed in the hospital for 2 more days and many people including numerous strangers came to visit.

Tupi was really touched as he felt appreciated. "I am not alone."

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Short Social Fiction: Adventures of Tupi 48

Tupi felt insignificant. He was confused. Can change be driven by one person alone? Do people care about making social impact or more about themselves?

Tupi was in his apartment alone. He looked at some of the photos of himself as he unpacked and he had friends in school, but after he started work, he felt more alone than ever. He did not have much of a social life and did not do anything much besides work.

Tupi checked his emails and for the few weeks he was traveling, he did not receive any emails from any friend or family – just lots of spam emails. Tupi went onto Facebook. There were no new messages or anyone commenting on his posts. ( He checked out a meme on Level of loneliness and shook his head. “Wow, I moved into this apartment by myself, and I have no one who I think would help me move.” Tupi said. “That’s level 9/10 loneliness. I wonder if anyone really cared about me, or if I would die alone?”

Tupi check the other rooms in his apartment and still found several boxes that were still packed up in boxes. He found some undeveloped film from his camera and made a list of things to do.

1) Build shelves.
2) Buy new 2m long shower hose.
3) Get nice comfy chair.
4) Need a bucket and mop.

Looking at his list, Tupi went online to check for the items and decided to take a trip to Ikea and make some stops along the way for the other items which cannot be found in Ikea.

Tupi plotted out his trip route and efficiently went about his purchase. He would systematically go to the store he picked, make his purchase, take the shortest route to the next store and move on.

Tupi was quite pleased with his progress. As he was waiting at the sidewalk, he crossed out some of the items he bought on his list and saw an e-scooter speeding by and stepped away from the path of the e-scooter, unfortunately, he was too close to the road and as a car was passing by, the mirror his Tupi on the head and everything went black.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Short Social Fiction: Adventures of Tupi 47

When Tupi was going home, he kept thinking about whether he prevented Michael from helping to build another bridge. "Helping is hard... Not helping is also hard." Tupi muttered and was troubled. "I thought that taking a few months to do volunteer work would make me learn more, but instead it made me more confused."

When Tupi reached home, he made some tea and took out a book and read a chapter. Then he started thinking about the bridge again. "They never asked for a bridge, it seemed like Michael wanted to build it because he had been building bridges for other communities around the world. So when the bridge did not get completed, why am I so worried about it? Is it because I sort of donated money and wanted it to be completed, even though my life is not affected by its completion? Should I donate more money to get it done, but what if it still does not get done? Isn't this how scams work?"

Tupi picked up the phone and called Alex (In Haiti). "Hey Alex... I've a question for you. I've donated money to build a bridge, and it has not been built because they needed more money as they did not budget for things, but after several rounds of more donations, it still did not get done... Should I donate one last time?"

"People in third world country are not incompetent. They can budget. If they fail to budget once, it may be because it was their first time, and they will be careful after. If they fail many times, it may be because they think you are a sucker and they are just milking you for money. Please don't encourage such behaviors." Alex said.

"Thank you... " Tupi said and he felt a lot better. "I guess I did learn something..."

Tupi went on the job portal and looked at the job postings. He typed in "Social Impact" and there was no job listing on anything social except "Social Media".

"Well, I guess no one will pay you to do good. It seems like you have to pay to do good..." Tupi said. "The world is really weird that way."

Friday, May 11, 2018

Short Social Fiction: Adventures of Tupi 46

Tupi met up with Michael to have dinner. Chomp Chomp was very crowded as usual and it took them sometime before they got a seat and their food, but the food was good.

"So have you found a job yet?' Michael asked. "Any good offers?"

"Applied for some and did not get any response." Tupi said. "Did not try that hard though, still want to understand more about myself."

"Wah, so rich ah..." Michael said. "Don't work also can travel? And pay for your new HDB flat?"

"I've been saving for the past 30 years for the house." Tupi said. "Finally bought it with all my savings. After that, my expenses are actually pretty low. I'm also renting out a room."

"Ok, anyway, I have some bad news." Michael said. "Remember the bridge we fundraised for Nepal a long time ago?"

"Ya?" Tupi asked. "What's wrong with it?"

"They have not built it. We sent the money and they hired the contractor and engineers and bought the materials." Michael said. "Then we did another round of fundraising for transportation."

"Yup, remembered that." Tupi said.

"Then they discovered that they needed more materials months later..." Michael said. "And we fundraised again and bought the materials and actually went there with the truck for delivery."

"Uh-huh." Tupi nodded."

"The bridge is still not completed yet." Michael said. "We paid for the permits, and submission, and it got approved months later again, but now, they claim that the monsoon washed away the sand and some of the cement bought was damaged in storage."

"This is ridiculous, don't they need to walk like 10km instead of 1km to the bus stop if the bridge is completed?" Tupi asked. "Why did they not store it well, and can't they pay for the remaining bits?"

"Uhhh... they are still living in poverty, their homes are slowly getting rebuilt, and they say they are still poor, but I kind of feel that we are getting taken for a ride." Michael said. "Many of the villagers have bigger houses now, they added a third floor to their homes.  So, you are right, they may be able to pay for the damaged materials and are just not doing it as suckers like us keep doing fundraising for them. "

"Ok." Tupi said.

"What do you mean ok?" Michael said.

"What else do you want to do?" Tupi asked. "If we believe that they can fund the materials and build their own bridge, then we should just drop it."

"What do you mean -- drop it?" Michael asked.

"How does it affect you if the bridge does not get built?" Tupi asked. "Are you angry that the bridge is not built because they cannot budget for nuts? We should allow them to pay for the remaining bits for the bridge."

"Wow, deep..." Michael said. "Travel has made you different... You were always so easy going and ok with everything."

"Unless its an ego thing where you want to show to people the bridge you built. " Tupi said. "Otherwise, just walk away. If its important to them, they will get it done."

"But they are poor..." Michael said.

"And yet they can build another floor." Tupi said.

"Oh ya..." Michael said and pondered for a few minutes. "Then I'll not do another round of fundraising for them. Thanks!"

"You were still thinking of another round for fundraising?" Tupi asked. "Its been years."

"Ya, but the bridge was not built yet." Michael said.

"You are too good..." Tupi said and they both laughed.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Short Social Fiction: Adventures of Tupi 45

Tupi arrived in Singapore after a long flight. He felt accomplished but had also some doubts with some of the things he had done. Tupi had a lot of time to think on the government response and how some of the survivors are stuck because of the bad policies causing so much waste.

Tupi did his laundry and took a nap, the continued with some chores in the house. Tupi finished his chores and watched Netflix for an hour and felt much relaxed. "What should I do now?" Tupi asked and looked at his laptop. He pressed the power button and it could not be powered it. "Damn it," Tupi complained. It was an old notebook and the battery was dead and it took ages to power up. Tupi connected the cables, powered it on and took a shower while it was turning on.

"Back to this again." Tupi said as he dried himself with a towel and started to check some emails. "Its such a long time without using my computer." Tupi browsed through several job portals and looked for suitable jobs. He spent an hour and bookmarked several jobs to apply later.

"Ok, now I can do other things." Tupi said, feeling productive. Tupi checked his phone messages and to do list and found that he needed to call Michael. "Yup, sure, all chores done." Tupi muttered to himself.

"Hi Michael, its me, Tupi." Tupi called Michael on the phone. "I just got back."

"Wanna grab a drink?" Michael said. "I'll buy you a drink as promised."

"Sure, where?" Tupi asked.

"Any cravings for Singapore food?" Michael asked.

"Oh yes, BBQ Stingray!" Tupi said. "Lets go Chomp Chomp to have beer too!"